Amid growing criticism, Atlanta increases snow response fleet from 10 to 58 pieces
January 11th, 2011
11:15 PM ET

Amid growing criticism, Atlanta increases snow response fleet from 10 to 58 pieces

The city of Atlanta expanded its fleet of snow response equipment from 10 pieces to 58 Tuesday amid mounting criticism over what many considered the city's failure to adequately prepare and respond to the biggest snow event in at least a decade.

So far, city crews have focused on clearing high priority routes, such as bridges and roads leading to hospitals, and providing emergency and essential services to residents, Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday. Of those 200 miles of high priority roadways, 150 have been cleared, and crews worked on clearing neighborhood and side streets Tuesday night after obtaining more equipment from private contractors.

Many of those streets are maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is partnering with the city to clean the streets tonight.

“The City of Atlanta is working tirelessly to ensure that the roads are clear of ice and snow and I want to thank our residents for staying off the roads to help facilitate this process,” Mayor Reed said. “In one of the worst snow storms in a decade, we have expanded our fleet from 10 to 58 pieces of equipment and have been coordinating seamlessly across city departments and partnering with other jurisdictions to keep our streets safe.”

Reed said the city had attempted to prepare for the snowstorm, which left most major roads, interstates and sides streets covered in ice, paralyzing the city with widespread closures of schools and businesses. Residents are still being encouraged not to drive tomorrow to allow cleanup crews to effectively clear the roads.

He acknowledged, however, that preparations before the storm that grew the fleet from 10 to 22 pieces of equipment was not enough, as officials had hoped it would be based on previous snow events.

"I think what surprised us was the quickness of the accumulation when the snow started falling," he said. "It turns out that double wasn't enough. We did not anticipate that this was going to be one of four biggest snow event in ten years."

Since then, Reed said the city has been working swiftly to acquire more equipment to clear the streets of ice and slush that has accumulated. But the city has had to compete with other municipalities short on resources for this kind of event for the equipment, Reed said.

"Governments from across the region are all in competition for equipment," he said. "We are doing this so the city doesn't have to purchase mass amounts of equipment that we may never use again."

Parts of the city saw up to 5 inches of snow Sunday night, which may not seem like a lot in absolute terms, but is significant in a city that has an average snowfall of 2.5 inches and considers a fleet of 10 salt spreaders and motor blades generally adequate for its purposes.

By comparison, the city of Cleveland, Ohio (where 80 inches of snow fell during the 2008 to 2009 winter season), had a snow removal fleet of 62 trucks and 13 road graders ready for Tuesday's snowfall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Reed noted one statistic that he considered the most significant measure of the city's response.

"We are not aware of any death that is snow-related, so as tough as it has been since this snow event began, we have not lost a life that we are aware of as a result of one of the most significant snow events we have ever had."

Read more about the winter storms heading up the Eastern seaboard
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Filed under: Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. jorge washinsen

    I am glad I am not in Australia now.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. fed 123

    They learned nothing from 2 weeks ago. I am sorry. I told them to get some shovels, snowthrowers, sand and plows. They told me to shut up.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. icedawg

    Don't sweat it. I live in a major city above the 49th parallel where it snows and stays below 0F for extended periods of time. This city does not respond well to a dump of snow either. It takes them days to clear the main arteries. Forget the side streets. And it says that it spends multi-millions on snow removal. I can understand how ATL would have a problem if it got about 4-5 inches of snow. Usually it melts within a few days. When it doesn't, well, just hang in there and enjoy the break. Some kinds were complaining around here, with 3ft of snow on the ground and 0F temps, "Why don't we get any snow days!" 🙂

    January 12, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. missadr

    I live in a suburb adjacent to atlanta, but I came here from Chicago. There is not one road anywhere in my area that has been salted or plowed. Not one. The entire suburb is crippled. The roads are solid ice. I think the county must not even have snow plows or salt trucks. crazy! If this had happened in Chicago, the residents would have formed angry mobs. I wonder what my taxes pay for if not for things like snow plows and salt trucks. This will be my 3rd day unable to get to work.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MaddieCait

      Suspect you need to pay higher taxes as the Atlanta deficit is getting pretty big. Next time it comes up for a vote, make sure you vote yes for higher taxes so the government has the money to buy a big fleet of trucks to remove the snow and spread the salt to melt the ice.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • ATL Transplant

      Um...your taxes pay for public schools, emergency services, the county court system, sheriff's department, etc., not plows and salt trucks that will be used once every five years.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Tax them, not me!

      The city and county can buy all sorts of equipment, tons of salt, and build wonderful buildings to house it all. They can pay other municipalities to rent out their equipment. And, they can pay overtime to as many personnel as they can find. How high would you like your taxes to be? Money is required to pay for the equipment, supplies, and personnel. Cities, towns, counties, states, governments get money to pay for services provided from fees and taxes. Your money. (no sarcasm or meanness intended)

      January 12, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave from Georgia

    People complained about the government not doing the job properly. Now I see the same problem with the private sector. I see both bad apples to bad oranges on both sides. Come on, conservatives! Does not matter who to blame.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. fed 123

    Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth.

    In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate. It may be qualified as anthropogenic climate change, more generally known as global warming or anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

    January 12, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dr.Scarlett

    Poor Kasim Reed is taking the hit for lack og snow removal for the City when he controls so little of the Atlanta municipality. Whether it is snow, roads, water or transporation or the Beltline, this is where a consolidated government-instead of thirteen renegade counties and over a 100 fiefdoms with their own mayor doesn't work for a large city of millions. Shame on you guys for not reporting on the glaring error in front of you- lack of consolidated government, the elephant in the room. And for not taking the Georgia legislature pork barrels to task on consolidation.

    I hope that Kasim stopped the plows at greedy Gwinnett who doesn't pay the taxes that I do for Marta and Grady or our schools. And leaves any Cobb resident to use their own trauma hospitals if they get in a bad wreck on the unplowed streets. And told Henry county that they couldn't attend the Falcons game in our Dome on Saturday unless they were annexed. Go for it Kasim. The City of Atlanta Citizenry is behind you! Shame on those other counties and mayors who ought to give up their keys to Kasim to really run this city.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. David M.

    Some of you people would complain even if there was nothing to complain about. It's winter, it snows, it's cold, it happens. Just deal with it. And shut up.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      David, yours is one of the few voices of sanity I have heard. Thanks.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jessie

    Well, we wanted smaller government right? Here's our smaller government! We all whine and complain about taxes and not wanting to pay into our government, and heres what happens. Go out and shovel the snow yourself if it's bothering you that much.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Suburban Atlantan

    Having lived in the Atlanta area most of my life, it never ceases to amaze me when people compare the winter storms here to other major cities up north. Atlanta is very hilly and it's not the snow but the ice that causes the driving problems. Try driving up or down a steep hill on a sheet of thick or thin ice. Most MW and NE cities are very flat and have the equipment to clear the snow and ice. No one, not even the big rigs that caused all the traffic accidents, can drive on sheets of ice safely.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • sara

      "Hills" in Atlanta is O excuse. They have a forecast...they Should have SALT and GAVEL and NOT WAIT for it to become ICE. This State has PLENTY of NEW TRUCKS including Garbage Trucks to place spreaders and shovels on them for this purpose. Stop making EXCUSES for this State, while people are losing their LIVES, and the ABC affiliate on channel 2 is "smiling" as if it's a JOKE. There is NO excuse for InCOMPETENCE.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Junior

    When I was growing up in ATL in the 70s and 80s we almost never got snow–just ice. Ice storms. And you could be stuck in your house with no electricity or heat for up to a week in the city of ATL. The phone would go out. People did not go to work. I never saw a plow–it doesnt work on ice. You just waited for it to melt. People expect too much these days.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. jay

    Maybe Al Gore has a solution..

    January 12, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Torrie Brown

    C'mon people, do we have to send the Canadians down there to show you how it's done. Get out the sand & the salt just like we do and hunker's winter!!!!

    January 12, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. regertz

    The mayor's been coping with a terrible budget deficit. Maybe additional equipment could have been borrowed faster but he got equipment right out and urged everyone off the streets immediately. All-in-all he's done well and the city's done well and I can't fault him for not running out and bleeding the city budget dry before he knew how bad the situation would get. We're lucky not to be having major power outages. The biggest problem is that people won't listen and keep trying to drive, even to the store around the corner. Stay off the roads and keep warm, that's the best thing. We'll thaw out in a couple of days.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. kyle

    Would you buy a $2,000 snow blower for your drive way in Atlanta? This happens every 5-10 years... stop whining.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
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